The Taep'o-dong I is a ballistic missile developed in North Korea. It is known by various names: "Taepodong" is the name used by American intelligence.

It is based on the Soviet Scud. In a nutshell, it consists of a small Scud (a Scud-B) tacked on top of a larger Scud (a Nodong II, similar to the Soviet R-13/SS-N-4 Sark).

The only Taepodong launch recorded to date was on August 31, 1998. It had three stages: the first dropped into the Sea of Japan, while the second stage, including the warhead, fell into the Pacific Ocean, leaving the tiny payload stage in space. North Korea claimed that it had placed a satellite in orbit with the rocket, but this was never proven, and evidence suggests that if a satellite was put in orbit, it was a shoddy orbit that decayed very quickly. The liftoff point for the launch was at 40°8'N 129°7'E: the rocket accelerated at 1.2 G for 293 seconds at 41 degrees inclination.

If it were used as an IRBM, the Taepodong I would have a range just shy of 3,000 kilometers (1,850 miles): enough to hit Japan, Taiwan, the most populated parts of China, and a good chunk of eastern Siberia.

Technology from the Taepodong program is believed to have travelled to Iran, and may have been used in the development of their Shahab 5 Kosar missile.


Length: 26 m
Diameter: 1.3 m at base, 0.5 m at business end
Weight: 22,000 kg
Thrust: 26,000 kg at launch
Payload: Up to 100 kg